>> August 23, 2010
Outside of the British Museum on bustling Trafalgar Square sits on innocuous, slightly smaller building called Canada House. Sitting there on the square, the first thing that draws a visitor's eye to the building are the Canadian flags flying on the rooftop. A sane person visiting any of the more popular destinations lining this historic square, in particular the Brit's museum and it's lovey Portrait Gallery or the corner behind it, will want a bit of respite. As travel bloggers, it is incumbent for us to tell you about the very special Canada House.
Our first trip to the British Museum, we were already tired. We walked in and walked out. Getting into the door was just too crowded. We had been two hours walking, but we loved the activity happening on the square outside. We sat there wondering what this exhibit and building were that was advertising "Arctic Perspective."
Arctic Perspective was a wonderful blend of indigenous Inuit artists, sculptures, printmaking, painters, and blends that with scientific research and engineering related to the future of Arctic Exploration. Its more important focus was that it highlighted the ecological, cultural, and geopolitical importance of the Arctic in the context of its indigenous cultures. It is a living project. It has an auspicious goal. It is something which can be documented and followed beyond its short tenure at this small London government institution of Canada. It aims to promote and sustain that which it exhibits and displays. Arctic Perspective is working in collaboration with the people pf Igloolik, Kinngait, Iqaluit, Mittmatalik, and Kanngigtugaapik in Nunavut, Canada and with other arctic communities, artists, architects on devising 'mobile media' and 'living units and infrastructure' portable buildings which can be used across the arctic for creative media production while being powered by renewable resources. It is a big project. It has teachable standards. The project will go on indefinitely as the Arts Catalyst seeks to provide a nurturing and sustainable home for part of Canada's national identity.
Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London
Canada House and other reasons to find places of respite and refuge in cities
When I first got my travel bug as a young adult I tried to find the end of the road and found several of them wound up in Alaska. To get there, we drove through Canada and learned about the ruggedness of the Arctic. It has always remained an important memory for me. Today we were two or three hours walking inside the big museum across the street from little Canada House. So, when our search for floor '0' ended in a wing with no connections to Michael Angelo, we exited back onto the street and popped out in front of the waving maple leaves and welcoming exposition signs.
There are other reasons to visit Canada House, it is a wonderful nicely decorated period building, you can get lots of information, you can arrange Visas; but, our favorite attribute which I am trying to embed deep enough within this blog not to overrun them with cheapskate backpackers - is that they have a lobby with really great computers which can be used to check internet and even print documents f_ee!!).
Scattered throughout downtown London and in its surrounds there are many such places of respite. We have passed Zimbabwe and Korea's welcoming centers and not gone in them. But, my guess, is like most of the cultural attractions and visitor centers around the world, not only will they have great inviting literature, but often they will have some exhibit or special introduction to their country.
London is of course filled with so many examples of where one turn down and underused alley or behind an ivy gate can bring you to lovely points of solace. All along the Thames are underutilized but much appreciated and cared for gardens where you are more likely to see street repairman having lunch or business types having a smoke, than see any roving bands of tourist groups or the like. Deacon's Square tucked behind the Westminster Abbey is the perfect place to quietly reflect on what the town might have sounded and acted like one or two hundred years previously.
Everywhere we go we continue to discover places which we want to share. Remembering to blog about them in time is hard for us. So we will have to come back soon, bog from the Americas and continue to refine our ever expanding interests in both going local and finding the hidden gems which are placed all around us.
Stay tuned, we cross England next to Scotland and then taste the Isle of Ireland before we fly across that big Atlantic pond back to our homelands.